Wednesday, December 19, 2007

$7.4 Billion Pledged to PA

From The New York Times, December 18, 2007, by ELAINE SCIOLINO:

PARIS — Eighty-seven countries and international organizations pledged $7.4 billion in aid to the Palestinians on Monday, in the most ambitious fund-raising effort in more than a decade to help Palestinians create a viable, peaceful and secure state of their own.

The total is set to cover the next three years. The Palestinians had hoped to secure $5.6 billion ...but the amount pledged exceeded that figure.

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said at the conference that a “moment of truth” had arrived, urging the world to increase its aid for Palestinians — or risk disaster.
“Without this support, without the payment of aid that will allow the Palestinian treasury to fulfill its role, we will be facing a total catastrophe in the West Bank and Gaza,” Mr. Abbas said.
In appealing for the financing, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, an economist appointed to lead the Palestinians’ caretaker government, formally presented his new recovery plan for economic, institutional and security reform for a future Palestinian state.

...Many countries do not fulfill pledges that they make at such conferences. Egypt and other Arab countries are known for pledging funds to the Palestinian Authority that they do not deliver...

....The event on Monday was the largest Palestinian donor meeting since 1996, and the latest in a string of aid-raising events for the Palestinians over the years. The Palestinians are one of the highest aid-dependent populations in the world, according to a new World Bank report.

....“Our aim is not to perpetuate assistance to the Palestinians indefinitely,” said Mr. Sarkozy, who calls himself a close friend of Israel. To that end, he called for Israel to allow freedom of movement of people and goods and to immediately freeze all settlement construction on the West Bank. “I must insist on this point: it is in Israel’s best interest, provided its own security is not threatened, to foster a normal existence in the West Bank,” he said. “This alone will enable the Palestinians to work, to stop ruminating on their humiliation, to curb the violence and trafficking and to regain their zest for life.”

As for the Palestinians, Mr. Sarkozy told them to live up to their promises to maintain “law and order over its territory” and to overhaul their security services.

Stephen Castle reported from Brussels and Graham Bowley reported from New York. Isabel Kershner contributed reporting from Jerusalem.

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